|July 27, 2021|
July's Artist of the Month: Ken Requard Requard is an impressionist oil and gouache painter specializing in innovative western landscapes, creating impressions of moments in time and place. He shares with the viewer a unique visual and emotional experience. Requard’s work draws the viewer in with a strong value pattern then intrigues the viewer up close with the quality of the painted surface and the subtle nuances of color and value. Using layers of paint to create an optical color mix his oil and gouache paintings reflect prior experience with transparent watercolor and pastel media. Requard believes a successful painting has both good planning and expressive execution.
You can view more of Ken’s work on his website at www.kenrequard.com and on Instagram: @kenrequard Please visit his site this month and subscribe to his instagram feed. This is a valuable way for us as fellow Christian artists to encourage and support the efforts of our brothers and sisters here in Tucson.
|Media&ARTS: 4Tucson Guiding Principle #6|
July's Call to Action!
We Believe God has answers if we ask
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV)
At our weekly staff meetings, we have been looking at this verse in Matthew. As I pondered these verses, I was amazed by the sentence structure of the verses and thought there might be additional meaning to unlock if we analyze this sentence more deeply. Verse seven is a “triple double compound sentence.” It has three compound clauses linked by semicolons. The first half of the first compound is (You) Ask. The second compound starts with (You) seek. The third compound starts with (You) knock. In each case God promises to respond to our fulfilling the command. “It will be given,” “you will find,” and “it will be opened.” But sometimes we think God doesn’t fulfill His end of the bargain.
These three compound clauses are joined with a semicolon. The semicolon is not there just to cause the reader to pause. It means something important. The semicolon indicates that although these clauses could be independent sentences, they are combined to complete one continuous thought. Verse seven is not intended to teach us how to get what we want. It is teaching a process of entering into something greater that God has for us, greater than we could have thought to ask for.
The process is not finished after asking and receiving. Once we have received, we then need to follow through by seeking. By seeking we will find, and after finding we then need to knock. When we knock, the door is opened and we need to walk in. Verse eight confirms verse seven without the semicolons, but it is still three declarative clauses indicating the promise of God in each step. So why don’t we always receive?
Sometimes the problem is simply that we don’t ask. James tells us in chapter 4 in the last part of verse 2, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” (NKJV) Prayerlessness is a problem. Jesus teaches us to take the first step. We are told to ask God for what we need.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
We need to be asking God to meet our needs and ask in faith. Yet even when we ask, we don’t always receive.
Sometimes we ask with wrong motives. James continues in chapter 4, verse 3 to say, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NKJV) James is warning us not to take advantage of God and become selfish in our asking. I would be remiss not to mention the difference between wants and needs. Often Christians confuse the two, and we think we need things we really just want. God does often pour out great blessings just because He loves us, but He is not pleased with selfish asking. He is trying to draw us into an intimate relationship with Him.
In the case of Matthew 7:7-8 it may be that we are just not prepared to complete the process. Most of us will take the first step and ask. Asking is easy, but seeking and knocking is building a relationship. We see this exampled in the gospel of John when Jesus fed the multitude. They had all eaten and been filled, but the next day they were looking for Jesus again. In John 6:23-28 we pick up the story where Jesus explains they were not looking for Him. They were really just looking for a free meal. He says, “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:26 NKJV emphasis mine) Jesus goes on to explain that they asked for bread, but once getting it, they just wanted more bread. Jesus told them to seek the food that gives everlasting life. They responded by reminding Jesus that Moses brought down mana from heaven. Jesus reminds them that it was God, not Moses, that provided the mana, and that God provides the true bread from heaven. When they asked Jesus for this true bread, they were still seeking bread, not Jesus. He then tells them that He is the bread of life.
They had asked for bread and got bread, enough for all with some left over. They sought for more and found Jesus, but they just wanted bread. What they found was the door they were supposed to knock on. Jesus is the door. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7 NKJV) They did not understand what God was offering them or the process that would lead to salvation and a deeper relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus wanted to take them beyond their next meal.
Matthew 7:7-8 is a process that Jesus teaches us. It is not God’s way to just give and give and give whenever we ask. He wants an abiding relationship with us. Though He does give abundantly with some left over, His plan is for us to seek Him, and enter through the door, Jesus, so that we can abide in Him, and He in us. As it says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4 NKJV) So what does all this mean to us in the Media&ARTS?
What Jesus is teaching is a process of abiding in Him. As creative people we need to be abiding in the vine. We need to be asking, seeking and knocking as a process of drawing us closer to God. As we engage in this ongoing process and ask to be more creative, he will take us on a journey of abiding with Him and going to new places with our gifting. “A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” (Proverbs 18:16 NKJV) God will use this abiding journey to glorify His name in all the earth, and we get a front row seat.